The cloud storage field is crowded, to say the least. Trying to figure out which solution is right for your business is maddening. You shouldn’t have to spend days reading technical white papers or talking to reps to pinpoint the technologies that meet your particular business needs. Unfortunately, it’s hard to distinguish one solution from another, and one of the reasons is that the terminology is constantly evolving. Once clear terms like cloud gateway have morphed into umbrella concepts incorporating a wide range of solutions.
Given the confusion, we thought it would be helpful if we defined the 10 most common cloud storage buzzwords. Some of these terms are straightforward. Others are more ambiguous. Either way, a little clarity should be beneficial, whether you’re setting out into the world of cloud storage for the first time or running some last minute due diligence to make sure you didn’t miss anything that would work for your business.
Public Cloud Storage
The major players, including Azure, Amazon, and the rest, offer a huge menu of services—compute, networking, storage and more. From a storage standpoint, though, public cloud storage is typically object-based or special purpose, so you need a separate solution (or several) to integrate one into your environment.
Private Cloud Storage
Here you take the basic approach of the public cloud, but keep it within the security perimeter of your enterprise. The costs are going to be higher at smaller storage amounts, but you do enjoy enhanced control and the ability to know exactly where your data is stored. Most solutions automatically save copies or stripe data across multiple regions for public cloud levels of durability—assuming you have the data centers, bandwidth and geographic distribution.
Hybrid Cloud Storage
In this case, some of your data remains onsite, while another pool resides in a public cloud. A storage infrastructure tool moves these workloads back and forth, sometimes automatically, but often manually. Typically, businesses that adopt a hybrid strategy will start by keeping primary storage local and moving backups or archives to the cloud.
Instead of directly interfacing with the cloud, and suffering from file latency problems, a physical or virtual gateway solution caches data locally and pushes unused files or backups to the cloud. As a result, gateways deliver fast performance along with cloud scalability. Five years ago, this buzzword applied to a wider range of solutions. With the advent of the global file system, however, the gateway should really be defined as single-point access to a public cloud.
This is a spin on the cloud gateway model, only cloud isn’t a necessity. With the edge-core approach, enterprises enjoy fast access and performance at the edge, via local hardware, while massive stores of unused data are stashed in the core for long-term storage. The difference, relative to a gateway, is that the core doesn’t have to be cloud.
Cloud-Integrated Storage (CiS)
At one point, cloud-integrated storage was loosely synonymous with cloud gateways, but now that there are so many ways of utilizing cloud, the definition is harder to pin down. You could argue that Cloud NAS, global file systems, and hybrid clouds are all types of cloud-integrated storage.
Storage as a Service (SaaS)
This is the idea that storage can be treated as a utility, or something you can consume on a pay-by-use basis. You don’t have to expand your hardware footprint and gradually fill out expensive, unused capacity over a number of years. Others have slightly different definitions of the concept, specifically citing vendors with excess capacity that rent storage space to other companies, usually for backup and DR.
Enterprise Sync and Share
The ‘business-ready’ variations of Dropbox, Box, and the like are cloud-based services that allow you to sync files to a local device and share them with other users. The enterprise versions offer integration with Active Directory, better access control, and other features to meet compliance and auditing standards. But the consumer versions can be a vehicle for Shadow IT. These services help users share local files off desktops, laptops and mobile devices but do not meet the needs of enterprise applications, which require files on a server.
Global File System (GFS)
This is a more recent development in storage—a file system built for the cloud that can span across devices and regions. The global file system creates a single, global file store with limitless capacity and a consolidated master copy of all files in the cloud. The precursor, the Distributed File System, or DFS, essentially tries to create a unified namespace out of a set of discrete file systems. But even with technologies like WAN optimization, replication and DFS-R, it still can’t approach the capabilities of a truly global file system, which combines local high speed access to files with unlimited cloud storage scalability.
Finally, we have Cloud NAS, a combination of the power and performance of local NAS appliances with the scalability and reach of the public clouds. Nasuni was designed by enterprise and object storage experts to create a backup-less, bottomless NAS that delivers true global file sharing. Users benefit from anytime, anywhere access, and IT controls a distributed storage environment through a single pane of glass.
To keep this at blog length, and avoid unintentionally writing an e-book, we did have to leave out a few common terms, including software-defined storage, copy data management, copy data virtualization and cloud bursting, the process of radically spinning up new compute or storage volumes. So if you have any additional questions, or you’re wondering whether Nasuni Enterprise File Services is right for your enterprise, send us a note. We’d be happy to discuss.
The landscape of cloud-integrated storage solutions is becoming increasingly crowded, making it harder for businesses to determine which one meets their specific needs. Download this white paper to see how different cloud-integrated storage solutions match up to your needs.